Turkey, UK partners in fight against terror, Erdoğan tells British PM

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 24.03.2017 23:04

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday to express condolences over the London terror attack and stressed that the two countries remain strong partners in the fight against terrorism.

According to presidential sources, the president stressed that the London attack targeting innocent people was also an attack on humanity and highlighted that Turkey was in full solidarity with Britain.

On Wednesday, a knife-wielding man went on a deadly rampage in the heart of Britain's seat of power, plowing a car into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament. Four people were killed, including the assailant, and 40 others were injured in the attack.

During the phone meeting between the two leaders, Ankara and London emphasized the need for continued cooperation in the fight against terrorism and further cooperation with security intelligence, presidential sources added.

The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack, according to the terrorist group's affiliated Amaq News Agency.

Meanwhile, commenting on the recently imposed ban of certain electronic devices, including laptops, on flights from Turkey to the U.K. and the U.S., the president also said that the ban has damaged mutual confidence and said he hoped the mistake would be corrected soon. He said Turkish officials are in close contact with their American and British counterparts to reverse the decision of including Turkey on the list.

President Erdoğan met with U.K. officials and politicians Friday evening during the sixth Turkish-British Tatlidil Forum in Antalya.

Established in 2011, the forum brings leading figures from the fields of academia, business, media and politics together to strengthen relations between Turkey and the U.K. Among those attending from the United Kingdom are Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also attended the meeting.

Topics discussed during the forum also include regional and world politics, Brexit, the July 15 coup attempt and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak and EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik will also participate, along with presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın and Undersecretary for Defense Industries Ismail Demir.

U.K. Prime Minister May visited Turkey on Jan. 28, meeting with Erdoğan and Prime Minister Yıldırım, following her meeting with United States President Donald Trump.

During a joint press conference held between President Erdoğan and Prime Minister May during the visit, both leaders agreed on new cooperative concepts moving forward in the next generation of the fight against terrorism: "Syria and Iraq ... These issues are a major contributing factors in Turkish-British relations," the president said.

Erdoğan asserted that Turkey strives to base bilateral relations on an entirely different concept, saying that, "We [Turkey and the U.K.] have discussed these issues."

In addition, during May's visit to Ankara, Turkey and the U.K. agreed to strengthen bilateral relations between the two allies, particularly after the U.K.'s Brexit decision.

"Today, we are announcing a new and unique government-to-government agreement between Turkey and the U.K. that [establishes a] new framework for cooperation and dialogue between our governments, including the defense ministries and the air forces," May said during a separate press meeting with Prime Minister Yıldırım. Commenting on the issue, Yıldırım said the U.K. signed a framework contract with Turkey to design new fighter jets for Turkey and that this step will help take cooperation in defense to the next stage.

Drawing on the U.K.'s relationship with Turkey, the British prime minister also said: "The relationship between Turkey and the United Kingdom has always been important, but it is arguably even more vital today for Turkey sits on the frontline of some of the most difficult and serious challenges we face."

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